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Definition Of Wicca

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 22 Sep 2001, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Kiama  22 Sep 2001 
Recently, my friend Luke asked me if I would initiate him into the Wiccan tradition at Imbolc next year on a visit to Glastonbury Tor. I said sure. I then told my other friend, Niall about this, and he had several problems with it.

Firstly, he said that to inititiate somebody into Wicca, you need to be a Third Degree Priestess. Now, I am not Wiccan, I am Celtic Pagan.

Secondly, he said that if you are going to inititiate somebody, you also have to teach them. Well, me and Luke have taught each other ever since we first met.

Thirdly (And the biggey!) he said that the defiinition of Wicca, is that you have to have direct lineage to Gerald Gardner, coven wise. Which means you have to belong to a coven which is directly hived from Gardners original one.

Now, this last criterion for initiation of Luke into Wicca poses a problem more for people not from England, where Gardner's coven was. As he set down in his BOS, you must be directly lineaged to him to be 'proper Wiccan'. Now, I know many of us have a problem with this, cuz loads of us prefer to practise alone. Also, I think that this criteria really stops people from practising a religion that they believe in.

Personally, I am not affected by this, but I am worried and kinda confused... What about you guys? You consider yourself Wiccan, and I certainly wouldn't argue with that, cuz I believe that religion is a personal thing. But what Gardner did still has implications over here in England, cuz there are some who are directly lineaged from Gardner, and will really have a go and even make threats to those who call themselves Wiccan but, acording to this criteria, aren't....

So, what do you guys think? I just need a discussion on this to clear my head really, and you guys are great for discussion!


Jeanette  22 Sep 2001 
Kiama, I just started studying about Wicca - beliefs, practices, etc. So far, everything I've read makes me very comfortable, because it seems like it is such a tolerant way of life. It seems to encompass everyone who truly upholds the SPIRIT of the whole system. So, to me, (certainly no authority!) if you feel it in your heart, you are. Maybe I'm mistaken in this belief? I hope not, because this world desperately needs a religion/spiritual path that doesn't exclude people, possibly causing animosity and negativity. Maybe others with more experience have other thoughts.... Jeanette 

tiger lily  23 Sep 2001 
I´m not a Wiccan, but I was interested in it for a time and read up on it on the net. from what I understand, there are lots of traditions that either branched out from Gardnerism or were founded independantly by the inspiration of one or several persons. All of them consider themselves to be Wiccan. If you tell an Alexandrian or a Dianic that they are no "proper" Wiccans, they´ll laugh in your face (if they´re nice ;-) ).

If you want to get an overview, look here:

I find it hilarious that a supposedly non-dogmatic religion invites discussions about orthodoxy... 

jade  23 Sep 2001 
i am wiccan and i self-initiated with my best friend. i also did another self-initiation alone in the tub cause i have a huge connection to water. my hubby self-initiated on our wedding night 3 years ago.

i do not agree with any of your requirements. if you choose to join a coven THEN a high priestess usually initiates you and then teaches you for a year and a day.....but if he wants to self-initiate (which is what this sounds like) then there is no teaching (just learning)

my soul-mother who is a high priestess, celtic shaman, firewalk instructor etc. she also teaches wicca 101 says, "most people are already wiccan, they just haven't realized it yet!" i just called her to check again, but she's in the middle of her wicca 101 class. but i never initiated with her and she supported my self-initiation completely! and she knows her wicca and magic BIG TIME....she's the maggie in maggie's magic spells!

blessed be.

jade  23 Sep 2001 
also, my littlest daughter had a wiccaning, which is like a wicca we don't choose a child's religion for them........but the promises that were made to her were from our belief system.....and i consider all my children wiccan and they are not part of a coven!

my 15 year old wears a pentacle and is proud of being wiccan.

so in your friends opinion, we aren't wiccan................your friend is wrong.

love and light,

purplelady  24 Sep 2001 
I consider myself wiccan and have also self-initiated. An advantage of being solitary is not having to worry about the silly rules or catagorizations or labels imposed by other people! 

Kiama  24 Sep 2001 
Woah there Jade, among others... That was NOT my friend's opinion, and if there's anyone in this world who's gonna disagree with what Gardner said, it's him! (Celtic Pagan with Chaos and Discordian tendancies. He was just telling me what Gardner himself said.

Personally, I have no problems with initiating Luke, cuz we both believe basically the same things. I was just asking my friend Niall about this, and he told me what Gardner said. We both love arguing from others' perspectives, cuz it helps us see things differently.

Neither of us defend the views I wrote about it the original post. What I'll do is ask my friend more about this, and see if I can find out more, cuz it's intriguing. I know that Wicca is a religion which (I hope!) is tolerant and accepting, aswell as dogmatic, and when I was researching it for three years, I saw that it was not dogmatic or 'elitist'. However, my friend is one of those people who has researched extensively, and I find it very hard to discredit what he finds out... (If anyone wants to read some of his work and views, he writes for WitchVox... I'll ask him later if I can give you his surname.)

Anyway, with this post I wasn't trying to discredit any Wiccans out there, and I wasn'ttrying to say you are wrong. I was merely trying to start an interesting discussion. It obviously hasn't worked.


morgane  24 Sep 2001 
I wouldn't consider myself exactly Wiccan although I use magic in my everyday life.
I have also been in contact with one guy from Ireland who relayed these directives from Gardner (he didn't adhere either) and the friend who introduced me to magic has just left a grove that wanted to become a teaching grove and establish a hierarchy (plus they didn't want to let anyone they hadn't tested attend a celebration, even as non-acting participant).
I'd quite like to know exactly what sources Gardner used when he defined his grades and directives for Wicca. If we actually take the thread that wicca is the Old English for witchcraft or for healing with nature then there were loads of wiccans in the world before Gardner.
I think I'll probably hang on to my belief that what you feel comfortable with is the most important. Still it is interesting to hear about sources. 

jade  25 Sep 2001 
Kiama (23 Sep, 2001 04:34):
I then told my other friend, Niall about this, and he had several problems with it....

Personally, I am not affected by this, but I am worried and kinda confused...

So, what do you guys think? I just need a discussion on this to clear my head really, and you guys are great for discussion!


relax kiama, no "whoa" needed. if you read your said you needed to clear your head and that's all i was attempting to do. i didn't take it at all as "we aren't wiccan because..."

cause i don't need anyone's approval for being me.

smile and i'll smile with you,
don't smile and i'll smile without you,
cause i'm still gonna smile.

love and light,
jade :-) still smiling :-)

ps just trying to be 'great for discussion'

Kiama  25 Sep 2001 
Thanks Jade. I was just thrown by the fact that you said
iall was wrong. I'm gonna research this further and see what sources Gerald Gardner used. Your answer 'I don't need anyone's approval for being me' qwas what I was looking for. I thought people might say that. Personally, I am of the opinion that my religion is my own choice, and I am prett y sick and tired of others making the decision for me. It seems strange tat Gadrner would say something like that.

Still smilling! :-D


nexyjo  25 Sep 2001 
just like there are over 22,000 sects of christianity, and many do not recognize some of the other sects as christian, the same goes for wicca. there are wiccan covens that can trace their lineage back to gardner, and that's wonderful. however, one of the most widely read and accepted series of books on wicca, written by scott cunningham, describe a religion called wicca in which the practitioner is solitary. so here again, we have various views and opinions on how one can practice, and disagreement on what exactly makes one wiccan.

i call myself wiccan. i practice as a solitary and with a coven, though i started as a solitary, and my coven has no lineage back to gardner. if someone says that i am not wiccan, i believe that person has a right to their opinion. and i would not argue with them. the goddess knows what's in my heart, and that's really the only thing that counts.

by the way, i never did a "self-initiation". i saw no reason for it. but of course, that's me. after a year and a day with my coven, i've been asked if i'd like to be initiated as a first degree something or other. and i said ok, that's fine. again, it's really not important to me how one describes ones self in any religion. i'd rather let ones beliefs and behavior do the talking. it seems to me that if people get so hung up on following lineages, when do they have time to do the things that really matter?

luv and light,

jade  25 Sep 2001 





Kiama  26 Sep 2001 
Nexy: 22,000?!?!?! WOW! And how many of those can I name? About 10!!!! Oh dear.

My friend Luke has always called himself Wiccan. He feels it suits him as a label, if he has to have one. I prefer the label Celtic Pagan, cuz I worship the Celtic Gods exclusively, although I accept all pantheons as the same pantheon and that what I worship as Brighid is just another aspect of the Goddess, the same as Isis is, or Hera. Personally, I have absolutely no problems with helping Luke dedicate himself, but I can see where others may find problems. I am not a Third Degree Wiccan Priestess. I will never be that. But sometimes I think that it isn't the title one has, but the experience and knowledge one has gained through experience...

When I help Luke dedicate, I will be working with him as an equal, as my friend, as a fellow Walker of the Old Ways. It doesn't matter to me that he calls himself something different to me. We have, so far, celebrated the Cycle of the Year together, and one through all of our learnin together. He helped me dedicate myself last year, and I think it'd be nice for me to return the favour...


Mystick Dragon  04 Oct 2001 
I am being initiated this Halloween. I am 1/8th Native American, and Wicca feels like their religion. I am also Scottish and Irish! I have thought deeply about the subject, weighing the pros and cons, like "If I do this, I'll be happier." and "But, if my parents find out, I'm out of the house." My parents are strict Christian. They no not of my workings, or of this site. For me, this is a way of re-connecting with my ancestors. I am still confused as to what goes on in Wicca, but I will learn. I was told that a WWiccan is still able to keep their original religion. (if there's one) Is that true?


Lee  06 Nov 2001 
Hi, Kiama --

I know I'm coming to this discussion late, and I have no particular knowledge or expertise in Wicca to contribute, but I think your question is basically an ethical one, i.e. are you violating any ethics by initiating Luke in a tradition when someone else tells you that according to some people, you wouldn't be qualified.

It seems to me that as long as Luke is informed that some people wouldn't consider the initiation valid, and as long as you and Luke have an in-depth discussion to make sure that deep down he doesn't really want to be a certified, 100% correct (by Gardnerian standards) Wiccan, then I think ethically you're in the clear. (If he *does* harbor any feelings that he might want to pursue the stricter definition, then perhaps you might want to either not do the initiation, or do it but with the understanding that he's free to later on pursue the more "valid" sort of initiation that Niall is talking about.)

As a side note, I'm absolutely dumbfounded that there are Wiccans who insist on things like lineages, or who would threaten anyone for any reason, as it seems to me from what I've read about Wicca that those things go against the whole point of Wicca. But then, as I say, I'm no expert.

Good luck --

Kiama  07 Nov 2001 
Dragon: Wicca is a religion within itself, and usually you do not 'keep' your old religion aswell. Wicca has it's own stories, myths, beliefs, etc. Although you can mix two relgions together, to create your own personal relgion, after all, it's YOUR religion, nobody elses.

As for your parents, please please please don't worry. It may seem that they will kick you out of the house, or hate you if you tell them or they find out, but maybe they won't. If they really are Christian they will know not to judge you, not to discriminate against you, and to love you as they would love themselves. Any self-respecting Christain should be accpeting of other's beliefs and values. I have come across many Christians, and many know of my religion (Celtic Paganism). They were not angry, or violent, or anything. They were deeply interested. They usually already knew who I was and what I'm like, so I assume they saw what I am like, and figured that if I am so nice, Pagans can't be as evil as they have been told. The same should be true of your parents. If they know you, and love you, you are still their daughter. Teach them what Wiccans are like through your example. Once they see that you don't do human sacrifices, and that you cherish the Earth and are generally a really nice woman, they should see the same about Wicca. If not, then maybe it is time for them to listen to your point of view over a nice cup of tea.... Good luck though, I know what it's like...

Lee: THANKYOU! THANKYOU! THANKYOU! I have spoken to Luke about this, and he knows that some would not see him as 100% Wiccan, but he wants to go ahead with it.

And, unfortunately, within every single religion, there are some who ruin it for the others and give them a bad name. It is no different in Wicca.


The Definition Of Wicca thread was originally posted on 22 Sep 2001 in the Spirituality board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Spirituality, or read more archived threads.

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